Egg Harbor, NJ man faces seven years for torching residence in Lakewood with 3 people inside
An Egg Harbor man has plead guilty to a series of unrelated charges including for setting a building in Lakewood on fire.
With regard to the incident in Lakewood Township, 27-year old Jamal Preston plead guilty to one count of Aggravated Arson "by purposely or knowingly placing another in danger of death or bodily injury" - and he also plead guilty to a second count of Aggravated Arson - "with purpose to destroy the building or structure of another" - with the crime taking place on August 22, 2020.
Two days before that, Preston found himself in unrelated trouble over in Berkeley Township and today plead guilty to Unlawful Possession of a Weapon for that offense.
Prosecutor Billhimer said that the state will be seeking a term of seven-years for the arson charge with danger of death and bodily injury to another at Preston's sentencing on February 25, 2022 and that goes with the state seeking a flat-seven year term for the arson charge for Preston trying to destroy the building.
For the weapons charge, Preston could get an 18-month sentence.
It'll be seven years in total though as the sentences would run concurrently.
The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, and New Jersey State Fire Marshal’s K-9 Unit investigated the August 22, 2020 inferno and determined that the fire was intentionally set with the arsonist utilizing an ignitable liquid and an open flame to torch the building.
Lakewood Police were first on the scene that day.
The investigating team later determined Preston set the fire to the residence while there were three people inside the home.
He then took off but U.S. Marshals caught up to him at a motel in Absecon.
Preston has been in the Ocean County Jail since that date.
He was found in the throngs of a fight in Manitou Park two days prior and when Berkeley Township Police arrived on scene, they found Preston with a knife.
He was arrested, charged on a summons and then released pending a future court date.
Prosecutor Billhimer said that Ocean County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Meghan O’Neill is handling the case against Preston on behalf of the State.